In the early days of gaming, properties and experiences were often separated into strict regions. The most profound of these was between Japan and the West, but even the differences between the gaming of the UK and America illustrated some serious disconnects. Today, however, the borders between games and gaming have blurred more than ever, the effects of which are more important than just greater opportunities in entertainment.
Technology Opens the Gates
The early separation of gaming into different regions was owed to two primary factors: geographic complications and assumptions of taste. In terms of geography, the cost of printing extra games and moving them overseas could be immense, especially since translation had to occur to adapt to different languages, consoles, and hardware specs.
On top of this, there was an idea that some games were too culturally biased to appeal to the tastes of everyone. RPGs based on Japanese school life, like the Persona series, for example, were often dismissed as too alien to be localized. Even assumptions about skill were common, as was seen in how Super Mario Bros 2 was repackaged with the idea the game would be too difficult for non-Japanese players.
Shifting Traditional Beliefs
Challenging these beliefs again came from two major forces, this time from gaming fans and related industries. Gaming fans, backed by rumors, magazines, and the early internet, learned of the legends of overseas titles, where fan translations would bring otherwise unavailable hits to new shores. In many cases, these translations for titles like Chaos Seed and Policenauts took off, and the gaming industry took notice.
Outside video gaming, the success in bringing interactive entertainment to other nations is most famously demonstrated by casino titles. Eventually, this would take the form of online casino titles like Live Baccarat, Sic Bo, and Andar Bahar. Already famous in their countries of origin, word of mouth spread the legends of these games beyond their original borders, and the better technology of the internet age would facilitate its spread onto PCs, mobiles, and beyond. Just like in video games, these games would find an established basis overseas, becoming a new part of a more global ecosystem.
Questions of Purity
As much as globalization has done for letting players experience more, in the ever-evolving world of video games, it’s also been blamed for homogenization. As AAA companies whittle down gameplay systems into an amorphous action-RPG hybrid, players are claiming that originality is often left a victim. Increasingly, developers and publishers are said to be forgetting their roots, instead delivering broader packages that encourage a dumbing down of what made the originals special.
Rarely has this been as obvious as with the release of the 2022 super-smash-hit, Elden Ring. The largest game from a developer long criticized for making impenetrable titles, Elden Ring eschewed many modern gaming conventions. For its efforts, it saw some loud derision from developers who claimed its approach was archaic. The game topped several best game of 2022 lists, so the claims of games renewing respect for their forebears have some merit.
The gaming industry is bigger than ever before, and there is always something for everyone. Whether looking at Ubisoft’s infamous tower-climbing games or From Software’s fresher takes, there aren’t any wrong answers. The globalization of the market means that not only is there something for everyone, but it’s also easier than ever to get what players want.